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Thursday, 19 December 2013

Inverted Priorities?

It's a sad state of affairs when a $1.6 billion circus that is only to be used once a week at most and for the primary benefit of a commercial sporting enterprise (the AFL) takes precedence over much-needed transport infrastructure to serve the only major corridor of Perth that does not have trains.

The priorities within public transport are questionable, too. Research on airport rail links in Australia and overseas and experience in Brisbane and Sydney suggests that a Perth airport rail link, which the Government says it will continue with, is likely to be a big white elephant. Brisbane Airport handles 21 million passengers a year and the airport rail link carries 2 million passengers. Perth Airport handled 13.7 million passengers in 2012/13, about two-thirds of the Brisbane numbers, suggesting a Perth airport rail link would attract fewer than 1.5 million passengers a year - about 4,000 a day.

Before the March state election, the Liberal Government estimated the cost of the Airport Rail Link as $1.9 billion - more than the entire Southern Suburbs Railway. The SSR carries 78,000 passengers on a weekday.

Even for those who will use it, the Airport rail link benefit is occasional, whereas the MAX light rail would provide benefits on a daily basis.

The bottom line is that the community (which, after all, will be funding these things) needs to be able to see and assess the business cases for MAX, the Airport rail link and the Burswood Stadium. In the absence of comparable business cases, the community would be justified in feeling that the Government has got its priorities the wrong way up.

Posted by Ian Ker, Deputy Convenor, STC.

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